Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

How to Build a Personal Advisory Board

mentor advisor, mastermind business successI received an email this morning from a colleague who was asking about how to expand their network and specifically how to create an “Advisory Board,” of key individuals with specific expertise that could help him be more successful in his career. I get a lot of inquiries about this subject so I thought I would give you some brief advice about how to at least get this process started.

Step One: Determine exactly what you are interested in learning about. It does you no good to simply connect with people hoping that they might be able to add value to you, so it is important that you take the time to sit down and think through the skills, capabilities, information and expertise you hope to gain through your advisory board.

Step Two: Once you have a very clear idea of exactly the kind of person you want to meet, send a clear and focused note to everyone in your current network asking them if they know anyone who possesses the skills and experience you are looking to learn about and might be willing to assist you as a mentor or on your Board of Advisors (Basically a group of mentors).

Step Three: When one of your current contacts identifies a potential advisor, do as much homework as you possibly can on that person before you get introduced to them. Google them, check their LinkedIn profile, see if they have a Facebook profile, ask your contact for any and all information that they will share with you – before they make the introduction. And then create a very clear and specific outline of what you hope to learn from this person so that your contact can make a solid and compelling introduction on your behalf.

Step Four: Once the introduction is made be extremely respectful, do not waste one minute of their time, explain exactly what you’re hoping to achieve, and then ask them what they are interested in learning more about so that you can work as hard as you possibly can to help them gain new information and ideas that would be of value to their personal and/or professional growth. Remember, for a networking or advisory relationship to be successful you must give as much or more value back to the person who is advising you as they are offering to you. You have to make a significant effort to constantly be on the lookout for ways that you can help them, bring them new ideas/information and introduce them to other people that they might find value.

Step Five: Once you create a solid advisory/mentoring relationship with this new contact, and you feel comfortable that you have gotten to know each other fairly well, ask them if they would introduce you to three people they feel would also add a lot of value to your growth and who would enjoy spending time with you and find value in the kind of information you would bring to them.

Step Six: With each of these new contacts go back to step three and repeat the process over and over again. If you do this diligently, and always strive to add as much value as you possibly can back to your mentor/advisor, you will look up in a few years and your network will have grown exponentially and you will have a handful of very key advisors who could literally change the trajectory of your career and life!

I hope you found this helpful, and if you did please share it with everyone in your network.

Thanks so much – John

Business Lessons from a Broken Foot

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What can be broken foot teach you about business? Well, as it turns out, several important lessons. Last Sunday I tripped while walking down my staircase at home and broke my foot and also tore my rotator cuff. Painful, but on the scale of things, just a small inconvenience. However, I have taken two excellent lessons away from this situation that perfectly relate to business.

 

 

DELEGATION

I might be pretty good at understanding how to run an organization,  build a high-performance team, create a winning culture, or increase levels of accountability – but I know absolutely nothing about the fifth metatarsal of my right foot, except that it’s broken. I have had no problem whatsoever admitting that this is not my expertise and delegating the care of my own personal foot to a doctor that is perhaps 15 to 20 years younger than me, but has a world more experience in dealing with how to heal a broken foot. I think this is a good lesson for a lot of business leaders to examine, just because you can run the company doesn’t mean that you can run every part of it. You have to realize where other people have more expertise and experience than you and then trust them to do the best they possibly can to deliver excellence in an area where you cannot. I would not trust my doctor to stand up and give a keynote address to 4,000 business people on strategy, but I absolutely trust him take care of my fifth metatarsal and return it to pinky toe excellence!

 

ASK FOR HELP

This is a big lesson a lot of business people need to learn, you can’t do it alone, you have to learn to ask for help. In my current situation as hop-along Cassidy I have had to admit that there’s a lot of stuff I can’t do without help. I can’t carry my own food or drinks, I can’t carry my briefcase, I can’t drive, I can’t get it out in and out of the shower… without help.  I’m not helpless, but I’m happy to admit there’s certain things that I just can’t do right now and I need to ask the people around me for help. For someone who is typically very independent, this is a big challenge, but in my current situation I have NO choice. I have struggled teaching this same idea to senior executives that I coach, they believe that they are supposed to be invincible, have all the answers and be able to fix any problem. That is simply not the truth. Nobody can handle the speed of change, the velocity of market factors, the constant acceleration of competition, and the massive challenge of managing a complex organization…by themselves. So, just like me who is hobbling around on crutches, senior executives need to get comfortable with asking for help. And here’s the key thing, most people are willing and eager to help, they see that you’re struggling, they see that you are having a hard time and they want to be there to assist you if you will only have enough courage to admit that you can’t do it by yourself and ask for help.

So those are two big ideas I take away from a broken foot. They are ideas that I’ve taught and coached to business people around the world, but it was brought just a little closer to home this week when they were wrapping my leg in a nice bright orange cast and I was told it would be on for 8 to 10 weeks. I have no option but to delegate and ask for help, and I would suggest that you have no option either.

 

PS – I have been nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious management and business awards – the Thinkers 50. Although a great deal of the award is based on merit, there is a component based on voting. You can only vote once, and I would dearly appreciate it if you would take just a minute to vote for me if you feel I deserve it. They’re going to ask for some specific information so here is what you need to fill out the form:

Person who gets your vote: John Spence

That person’s title: Managing Partner

That person’s organization: John Spence, LLC

That person’s email address: John@johnspence.com

Thank you very, very, very much for your help!! John

Here is the link to the voting page: http://www.thinkers50.com/vote-2015/

***  If you have already voted – thank you soooo much for your support!!!

How to get the most out of a workshop, seminar or speech

This is a great video for leaders, managers and employees to watch to help get the very most out of a business training workshop, seminar or keynote speech. I have been a business trainer and keynote speaker for more than two decades and I share with you in this video why it is so critical to pay attention and apply what you learn when your company spends a lot of money to send you to a training workshop, seminar or speech.

How To Be A Great Mentor / Mentee


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Business Success Made Simple

8D9xPlllM2WzeTfM4McZ-Tl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBU8NzMXDbey6A_oozMjJETcFor nearly a decade I’ve been jumping up and down at almost every seminar I teach shouting, “Whoever owns the voice of the customer – owns the marketplace.” Yet I am still absolutely flabbergasted by how few companies truly do even an average job of listening to the people who pay all the bills – their customers. Because I’ve built my entire career around making complex things simple, here are four very simple questions to ask as many of your customers as possible:

 

  1. What are the top THREE reasons you do business with our company?

If you ask lots and lots of your customers this question, and a clear pattern emerges, they have just told you your value proposition and given you incredible insight into how to build your brand. I will quickly use myself as an example; I asked several dozen of my top clients around the world specifically why they hired me and the answer came back exceedingly clear,

 “John, we don’t know any other speaker who reads and studies as much as you do, you been reading more than 100 business books a year for 20 years, teaching for some of the top companies and business schools in the world and you are a top 100 business thought leader  – you are a complete freak for learning about business. You’ve also been the owner or CEO of 10 companies, and was the CEO of a Rockefeller foundation at the age of 26, so this is not just about theory – you actually know what it’s like when you’re having a hard time making payroll. Lastly, is easy to see that you are deeply interested in and knowledgeable about business, every time you present you are focused and passionate about what you’re teaching– and because of those three things we always get a high ROI when we engage you.”

So my brand isResearch + Real-Life + Passion = ROI

I challenge you to do the same thing with your customers, ask a large number of your best customers specifically why they chose to do business with you and they will give you information that will be invaluable in your marketing and branding going forward.

 

  1. What do we do that frustrates you? What would you like us to start doing, stop doing or do differently in order to make it easier to do business with us?

Again, if you ask a significant number of your top clients this question there will likely be a clear pattern and then it’s very simple: immediately change the stuff they want you to change if at all possible. Be warned, if you ask this question and do not heed their advice it would be worse than never asking the question at all, so you have to be prepared to make the changes they suggest.

 

  1. What would we need to do to earn more/all of your business?

When you get quality feedback on this question you have essentially been given your growth strategy directly from your customers. It has been my experience in working with dozens of clients on this exercise that your top customers will give you the same three or four answers, which should then be turned into key strategic objectives. I cannot possibly think of a better way to grow your business then ask the people who are already spending money with you specifically what you would need to do to get them to give you more money. Yes, it is just that simple.

 

  1. What would we do that would cause you to fire us immediately?

Typically you get several very clear and straightforward answers here around breach of confidentiality, unprofessional behavior, substandard work, missed deadlines, scope creep and things of that nature. Once you collect these answers make a list of the pattern and then make sure that everyone in your business understands that they must never do any of these things!

 

You can change the questions around a little in order to match your industry and your customers, but at the end of the day if you’ll just pick up the phone and call a handful of your best customers and ask them questions like the ones above, you will be overwhelmed by the quality and value of the answers you get and how significantly this information can impact your business. I know this suggestion is so obvious and simple as to almost be offensive, but I can also tell you that less than 10% of businesses ever do this exercise. So get on the phone or send out a survey and let me know how things turn out for you – I very much look forward to your feedback!

How To Be More Successful in 2015!

shutterstock_1197366For 20 years I have traveled upwards of 200 days a year worldwide to help people and businesses be more successful. In this video I will share with you what I have found that will make you more successful than 90% of the people around you. It is a very simple idea, but one that exceedingly few people do. I hope you find this video of great value. I wish you every possible happiness and success in the new year. Love, John

PS – I have added several links below the video that should be highly helpful in your learning and development goals for 2015 and beyond. Please feel free to share them with anyone you might want to. Good luck!!

Here is a link with more information on the FREE Virtual Sales Kick Off:  VSKO2015  (You don’t want to miss this one!)

Here is a link to the top 60 (or so) business books I have ever read:  Top Business Books  (you have to enter your email to get this list)

Here is a list (with links) to my top learning resources:  Top Learning Sites

Business Success Made Simple

 

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So let me make this Awesomely Simple… The key to Genius Leadership and Business Success is…

Purposefully Helping Others!

 

I think that pretty much sums it up.

Please share with your friends and colleagues. Love, John

The Most Important Thing In Business

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I was talking to a good friend of mine, Bob Fetterman, who is the manager of the performing arts center at our local college, when he turned me and said, “In one word, what is the most important thing in business?”

I thought about it for just a few seconds and then confidently answer, “Talent.” Bob looked back at me and said, “It’s the same in the theater.”

The truth of the matter is it’s the same in just about every organization. If you’ve done a truly good job of finding highly talented people you have built the foundation for a sustainably successful organization. Because no matter what’s wrong in your business; if you have great people they can figure out a way to fix it. On the other side of the coin, no matter what’s wrong in your business, if you have bad people they will make it worse.

In the class I teach on strategy at Wharton I tell my students that we are entering an era where there is very little opportunity to create sustainable competitive advantage. Your competitor can copy your products, they can put a location right across the street, they can spend ten times what you do on marketing, they can drop their price, they can offer free shipping, they can do lots of different things to try to win in the marketplace, but if you have superior talent, your people will figure out how to win against the competition. To me, two of the only sustainable competitive advantages left to most businesses are:

The quality of the people that you can get, grow and keep on your team

 

The relationships they create with your customers

 

Which means that talent acquisition, talent development and talent retention should be a major strategic imperative in your business. In addition, you will need to create a winning culture of highly engaged, satisfied and loyal employees who are fanatical about delivering only the highest quality products and services and having only superior customer relationships and will tolerate nothing less.

Years ago I had lunch with a gentleman who built his business from one acre on the edge of a dairy farm, to a multibillion-dollar enterprise and I asked him what he felt the most important thing in running a successful business, he didn’t hesitate, he looked at me and said, “John, you can kid yourself about a lot of things in business but at the end of the day it’s always people, people, people.”

 

If you have 5 seconds I would deeply appreciate your vote as a top small business influencer…


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

How to Make 2014 Your BEST Business Year Ever!

If you found this video of value, PLEASE take a moment to share it with your entire network.  My goal is to help as many people as possible have a fantastic 2014 in their business!!  Thanks so much, I wish you every possible happiness and success in the new year!!!!  John


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence